fORCED aDVENTURE

15.08.2010

Independence day

My week long trip to parthi, the place where I grew up, has come to an end. It’s a journey back. I am taking the 6.30pm train to Mumbai.

How mundane can this get?

Its 5.40pm and I am still getting my damaged bag stitched at the local repair shop. I need to go to the ganesh gate, give my farewells to Ganesha, get home, get changed, pack, and take an auto rickshaw to the train station. a 20min drive. All of this in the next 50 mins. There shall not be any surprises, I will definitely make it, nice and easy.

So, the bag is sewed and ready at the repair shop. I stop a rickshaw and jump in to get home and pack-up. 3 other people get in. I figure that this is a sharing rickshaw… cool… saved 5 bucks. At 5.50, I reach Ganesh gate. I hop out and get going with my internal melodramatic farewell from parthi in front of Ganesh temple. Then I rush home. Its nearby. On the way to my room, I ask a rickshaw to wait outside while I get my bags down. I had piled up my clothes earlier so it was easy to dump them all in my freshly sewed bag. I realise that I forgot my blue file at the bag repair shop that has my tickets and other necessary documents relating to my current project.

No problem. Its on the way and I’ll pick it up. Nice and easy. My short-term memory has betrayed me almost every time and so I start repeating, blue file blue file blue file …just loud enough for me to hear. I lock my room and dive into the rickshaw. Its 6.07pm. 20 min drive. I’ll make it with 3 mins to spare. Nice and easy.

blue file blue file blue file ….In 5 mins we reach the bag shop. Shutter down and locked! What the fack! Who closes shop at 6pm? The next shop guy is a barber and tells me that the guy just left towards his home. it is nearby. Me and another helping local rush towards his house. His mama says that he has left for namaz and will be back in 20 mins. Excellent!

Emergency mechanism kicks in… right now, i need only the freaking ticket!

I look for an Internet shop to re-print the ticket. None. Luckily, my buddy from college runs a BPO unit next door. I call him to check and – Voila! he is there! I rush there for the print and request him to courier the blue file from the bag shop. Before the print is out, my helping local has traced the bag shop guy and gotten hold of the file. He is screaming from outside…SIR SIR… WE GOT THE FILE AND TICKETS!! ….It’s a hasty goodbye’s to my buddies. I horizontally dive into the rickshaw and thank the local.

6.15pm. 15mins to go. I ask the rickshaw guy to speed. He goes crazy. We reach the station at 6.28, 2 mins ‘before’ time.

BRAVO!  …you stud you 😉

Train hasn’t arrived yet. Sigh.

2 mins into the station and the announcement says that the train is late by one hour and they regret the inconvenience -arrival only at 7.30.

Crap. I should have called & checked  –  making my trip to the station less sensational.

Anyways. So I hang around the station and have some tea and biscuits… not many chicks around… It begins to rain and stops. 10 mins later the announcement says the train is arriving soon… wasn’t it supposed to be an hour late? I would have been f***ed had I called the great Indian railways and decided to get here an hour later. I think our subconscious mechanism is capable of seeing through the past-present-future of any given circumstance. What if we remained in the subconscious all the time and yet moved about in the physical? I think thats how Lucio Fulci got the idea of Zombies.

The train arrives shortly at 7. I feel good and board my coach B2-seat 31, the ‘side lower berth’ – my favorite. Almost every time I get this seat, I have been approached with sweet-faced requests to have an exchange, mostly, a strategic move by either the lady(XXL ones) or an oldie from the group traveling along side. Every time I have been gullible and have felt miserable after sacrificing my seat. This time, its not happening. I have planned my counter moves. I will say that I am working on my laptop and need the switch board that is available only for the lower berth.

I drag my bag inside. A daddy wearing thick soda glasses is feeding his kids on MY seat.

No problem.

There is plenty of area in the train for a stroll. I’ll come back later for MY seat. I slide my bag under the seat and go away to the coach door for some fresh evening breeze.

30 mins later and the soda glass guy is still working on the food and the mom replaces the kids.

No problem.

I’ll sit and wait at the nearby seat. In India, people like to occupy your seat till you decide to Talk. No matter what; I am claiming MY seat this time!

I ponder on this thought and 15 mins later the train halts at the next station. People selling dal vada are filing the aisle. In moments the whole compartment is smelling of dal vada. Oily but yummy. I decide to take a stretch, descend on the station and have a couple of vadas with some tea. As I finish the vadas the train signals to leave. Normally it leaves a minute after the signal.

My ticket was in the waiting list when I had booked them. I got confirmation earlier in this morning by way of a sms from Indian railways. Snazzy Indian railways. Confirmed seat – B2, 31. So I decide to quickly have a look at the chart pasted next to the coach door. It feels nice to see your name on the chart. I normally check it out before boarding to see any ‘similar age-group’ female passengers in the same cabin – angles having strange power to make any journey cheerful 😛 …but ironically, i don’t remember any instance where i actually managed to make a conversation. Maybe i was following the rule ‘ignore to attract’ rule subconsciously. It never works i swear.

Tracing my finger down to seat 31 and across – its NOT my name! must be an error… I slide my finger carefully and horizontally along the number 31… IT IS NOT MY NAME! Am I in the right coach?

B2. Yes. It is.

The train gives the final signal. WHAT THE HECK! How do I fight with the soda glasses now!? This is a serious error by the Indian railways! Freaking Indian railways.

My eyes go up on the chart to confirm the coach number. Perfect! Above it is the train name “Yehwanthpur Kachiguda express”

Kachiguda? what is kachiguda?

This train is supposed to have started from Coimbatore (not Yeshwanthpur) and terminates at Lokmanyatilak station in Mumbai. I don’t recollect any station by name kachiguda in Mumbai. Special character’s @#$%^&*^$ run through my head as the train whistles.

I quickly ask another passenger where is this train headed?

“Kachiguda”.

Where the fack is Kachiguda?

“Hydrabad.”

FACK FACK FACK

Wrong train. I jump in to pick my bags and in nano seconds i am out as the train pulls away.

Where the heck is my train?!

If this Kachiguda exp. and the actual Mumbai train are headed in the same direction, i’am safe… the Mumbai train would arrive in about half an hour (the half hour I thought my train was early)

BUT, if they are headed in opposite directions – I AM F***ED!

I ask a stall guy about the Mumbai train. He says- It has felt a while ago. FACK. No. Wait. Always double check. Another guy says it is an hour late. Makes sense, because the route is the same.

sigh. 10 mins later the announcement confirms the arrival of the Mumbai train. Sigh……sigh…sigh

I WILL make it to Mumbai I swear.

The train arrives. Coach B2, seat31. I get in to see my seat occupied! Again! Second time in the day!

WHAT THE …..!! …and this time by a monster size guy with his bedding all spread and cozy…ready to go to bed. In India, people like to occupy your seat till you decide to Talk. He notices me looking at him and utters in his natural deep threatening voice –

31?

Yes.

I WILL SLEEP HERE. YOU TAKE MY SEAT ON THE UPPER BERTH.

(F*** OFF – i say under my breath – his palms were as thick as my thigh…more wider than they were long. His breath reminded me of Gozilla. One blow would be absolute fatal)

“I need to work on my lappie…. Need the switch buddy” i said

HMM.. OK. I WILL FIRST FINISH MY DRINKS, DINNER AND THEN SHIFT.

Thank you so much for this mercy.

30 mins later at 9.30pm I secure total control over my seat – B2, seat 31.

Its Aug 15th, Independence Day.

Indeed.

Happy Independence Day!

chuk chuk rail gaddi aayi, fulltoon band baja ke gayi

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